World famous in New Zealand: Brick Bay Sculpture Trail, Warkworth
The fall colors add to the pleasure of strolling along the trail.
You could just come here for the wine and the food. In a long greenhouse situated above the reflective surface of a lily-fringed lake, you can drink wine produced from the surrounding four hectares of vineyards and eat brunch, lunch or simply graze while gazing at the water, fully satisfied.
But that would be missing out on Brick Bay’s most distinctive attraction: the sculptures strewn along a path that winds through the pretty landscape you gaze upon.
Because it’s such a winning combination of art and nature. The easy trail passes through neat rows of vines, winds through a leafy valley, skirts the peaceful lake, crosses open meadows, follows a boardwalk and climbs some stairs. In just two kilometers, you will see some sixty works of art, built on a scale that dominates their location, or that fits perfectly into it.
Materials include pleasingly rusty corten steel, stone, wood, gleaming stainless steel, aluminum and ceramic, each communicating the artists’ imagination and message through their striking forms.
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Aotea (The White Cloud) by Filipe Tohi, for example, is a stunning work of geometry and metal that, on calm days, is both doubled and enhanced by its natural reflections in the lake. Fatu Feu’u’s Orongo/Moai, on the other hand, is a bright red three-ton challenge; while Virginia King’s gleaming silver-tone hardware is exquisitely elegant and delicate. The works are all for sale, and change every year.
You’ll pay less for admission to the Sculpture Trail if you stay and eat at the restaurant, which is hardly a penance. Reservations are not required just to hike the trail.
On the way/nearby
The pretty little beach of Brick Bay is nearby; or head further afield to the Mahurangi Peninsula, passing bustling Snells Beach for a stroll through Scandrett Regional Park at the northeastern tip. Here you will find a lovely curve of quiet beach between rocky headlands, once used as pā sites.
On the grassy hills behind is a scattering of historic buildings dating back to 1864. These include the restored farmhouse of Irishman George Scandrett, the first to farm here.
There is more history and beautiful coastal scenery on the southwestern tip of the peninsula at Scott’s Landing, where the fishing is good and at low tide you can cross to Casnell Island.
For something more cultured, pass through Warkworth to the other side of the Mahurangi River, where the 1883 cement works, now a picturesque ruin, has been transformed into a pretty garden. The deep quarry there is now flooded with fresh water and may be good for swimming.
Admission to the trail only is $12 adult, $10 senior/student, $8 child (5-17) and $35 family. Brick Bay hours of operation are weekdays 10am-4pm, weekends 10am-5pm, but the trail entrance closes an hour earlier each day.
Best time to go
Choose a beautiful day, ideally calm for the best reflections. The tall deciduous trees are beautiful in the autumn sun.
Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.